But Sir Keir is arguably tarnished most by his position on Brexit as he is widely seen as having been a key architect in Labour’s slide towards backing a second referendum before the last election.
Ever since the historic 2016 vote, he has always maintained that the will of the people must be respected ‒ but this has failed to stop Prime Minister Johnson calling him a “Remainer lawyer”.
This perception appears to have taken hold within Labour circles, too, as reported in Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire’s book ‘Left Out’.
They write: “Mr Corbyn’s position had been not to take one ‒ so as to ensure the Shadow Cabinet and his own inner circle were united around the same one, whatever it was.”
But as then Prime Minister Theresa May was finalising her proposed withdrawal agreement with the EU at the time, this approach was beginning to wear thin and “his oldest allies were wobbling around him”.
The book continues: “Once a strident Eurosceptic, Diane Abbott had mellowed with the times and took the same line as Another Europe and voters and Labour activists in her constituency: the Brexit vote of 2016 was the result of a racist, right-wing project that all good progressives should resist.
“The impact a Tory Brexit would have on migration weighed particularly on Ms Abbott.”
However, it met the wrath of Corbynites who represented Leave constituencies in Red Wall seats – most notably Jon Trickett and Ian Lavery.
Mr Pogrund and Mr Maguire note: “At meetings of the Brexit subcommittee she [Ms Abbott] argued alongside [Emily] Thornberry and Sir Keir in opposition to Mr Trickett’s and Mr Lavery’s axis of blokeishness.
“In one meeting Mr Lavery, who abided by the same working-class honour code that had governed behaviour in the miners’ welfare clubs of Northumberland, was even moved to break his self-denying ordinance of swearing in front of women.
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“Mr Lavery exploded, ranting at length at Sir Keir, the only man available to absorb the fusillade.
“‘If you f***ing agree, do you want to f***ing try that again, son?’
“His rage did now cow Sir Keir; whose manoeuvres in the lead-up to conference would give Mr Lavery his answer.”
As Mr Lavery appeared to predict, the move was a disaster.
Labour was decimated in Red Wall seats ‒ across Wales and northern England ‒ and, although Mr Corbyn’s lack of personal appeal was a significant factor, Brexit was widely seen as being the key.
‘Left Out’ was published by Vintage in 2020, it is available here.
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed